Our Spiritual Leader, Jeremy Szczepanski

From Catholic Altar Boy to Rabbi

For as long as I can remember, I had a questioning nature. My mom used to tell me that I wouldn’t ride a roller coaster until I had figured out how it worked. That love of introspection, research, and picking things apart in fine detail grew into a lifetime love (and even obsession) with learning. Having grown up in such a religiously devout home, it was only a matter of time before I explored my theology.

Questioning of my faith and belief in God took me on a wild quest to find my spiritual truth, a quest that would lead me to seek the path of Judaism in my mid-20s while living in my hometown of Toledo, Ohio. Because I was taken in by such kind, caring community members who exemplified the ancient and prescient wisdom of Judaism, my appetite for Jewish learning and living grew even more. 

My path to the rabbinate is the natural outgrowth of my lifelong pursuit to find spiritual meaning and engage with the Divine in my life. One of the things I love best about Judaism is that it is not a spectator sport; all Jews are called upon to serve God as mamlechetkohanim v’goy kadosh, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). To live as a Jew is to engage the world through a uniquely Jewish perspective, with moments great and seemingly insignificant both filled with divine potential. Jewish religious observance reinforces that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

The purpose of learning Torah in her myriad forms is to guide us on the path to mindful, meaningful living. Complacency is not a Jewish value, as Torah learning is a lifelong pursuit. God is always waiting for us to engage so that God may teach us, push us, and challenge us to live up to the awesome responsibility of beings created in the Divine Image. 

When not attempting to solve all of the mysteries of the universe, I enjoy reading, cooking, hitting the mats for Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice, and hanging with my canine pal Tom-tom.